At least once every blue moon, I want to highlight a few music videos that have crossed my path. Sometimes when we hear of a new artist, the very first place we go is Youtube, which typically either makes us a fan or a hater in short order. I decided to pass along a few interesting videos from underground, indie and unsigned hip-hop artists. These are not big-budgeted videos. They don't have well-known directors. You won't see any of them on MTV. Enjoy.
Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis city. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 21 and was followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
Akilah Jae "On Top"
Akilah Jae is a breath of fresh air. Her voice is original and soulful, yet her spirit, on display in the video, is very youthful. She reminds me of vintage Mary J. Blige, prior to the fame. In every impoverished neighborhood there's a girl down the street who can sing just as good as any singer on television, but she's a victim of circumstance patiently waiting for her opportunity to change the world. I absolutely love this song, and I hope we hear a lot more from this young songstress. I've listened to it three times in a row and I could probably get away with keeping it on repeat for the next 30 minutes.
Cheech Forreign "Midnight"
Cheech Forreign was raised the belly of Jacksonville, Florida, but her producer and close collaborator Average Jo is from St. Louis. She often carries the vibe of a female version of Big Krit, but her sound and approach to the music can't quite be compared to anyone else. This song is deep and tugs at your heart. Cheech specializes in making her insecurities sound beautiful. Perfect title, perfect song, alongside an awesome video and feature from Just Will.
Riley B. "Real Rap"
Riley B. tore the stage down at SXSW. Prior to his performance, I didn't realize how dope this record actually is. I went back and looked at a few of his music videos and ran across this hidden jewel, directed by Rob Ruger and Darrone Calvin. I usually hate when people use terms like "real rap," but in this case the descriptor is apt.
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Bo Dean featuring LZ "Track 2"
If you've never witnessed Bo and LZ perform this song live, then you've probably never been to a local hip-hop show. A crowd favorite from the duo, this video is a compilation of performance footage, featuring appearances by the SOGL crew and a slew of their supporters. The video perfectly translates the energy of the performance, and if you look close enough, you'll see a cameo from the Foot Klan's DJ Spec in the background toward the end.
iLLPHONiCs feat Tiffany Elle and Glitch Factor "Sundown"
iLLPHONiCs is one of the city's best hip-hop bands. All live everything, all the time. This is a large record ,overflowing with pleasing sounds. The video makes me want to do a bunch of drugs, drift off into the night and get into a bunch of troublesome situations. It's intriguing enough to hold your attention and flashy enough to make you want to dance and party the night away. iLLPHONiCs is always money in the bank.
The Domino Effect "Berlinetta"
This video might be my favorite on the list. I'm quickly becoming a superfan of this group, which murdered the stage at SXSW this year.The beat is sick, and the subject matter is layered. The video is just flat-out weird and interesting. I think you'll find yourself clicking play on this one more than once, due to its double-layered messages and sublime punchlines.
Indiana Rome "Prime Time"
This song is a certified crowd favorite and the performance video makes it all the better. Indiana Rome is currently working on a new EP entitled Dope Dealer and you can catch him in action at his Funeral Fresh concert series. If you're looking for energy, swagger, lyricism and music you can just bounce around and have a good time to, look no further. The track is produced by and features Vega Heartbreak (the genius mind behind the original Cardinals Rally song). Indiana Rome is a true sleeper; take time to dive deeper into his universe.
Heir Jordin "Proud History" Directed by Nick Menn, Semir, Rt-Faq
Heir Jordin is the son of RT-Faq from Doorway (RFT's Best Hip-Hop group in 2013). This video was released the last week of Black History Month and quickly went viral. Heir Jordin was featured on hundreds of popular blogs. This started out as a school history project and in the blink of an eye it turned into an adorable internet craze. I know Jordin personally -- he's never been afraid of the stage and has likely rocked larger crowds than a handful of your favorite local rappers. He's a brilliant, talented kid with a bright future indeed.
Prince Ea "I Know Who Killed Hip-Hop"
Prince Ea is no stranger to controversy in the name of real lyricism. This reminds me of a newer version of Ras Kass' "Soul On Ice." The Michael Jackson call in the beginning of this video started off as its very own Internet hoax -- no one had a clue that this music video and the hoax would eventually be connected, and many online conspiracy theorists were duped. The video is a part of an ongoing saga -- the sequel is yet to be released. Keep your eyes open for the badass cameo from Hopsin at the end.
Black Spade "Nobody's Fool"
Not long ago, Black Spade left St. Louis for New York and lived there for a while. While he was there he partnered with Converse, and together they put out an amazing music video to a previously unreleased record about revolution and anarchy. You'll find yourself watching it back-to-back on repeat and catching things you didn't peep on the original rip. This one doesn't really need much of an explanation; the video itself is like a mini-movie. This song should have been the theme to Hunger Games, if you ask me.
Nick Menn "Hero Inside"
Doorway member Nick Menn has taken a stance against heroin with his new foundation Hero Inside, started in honor of his deceased friends. This track, which carries the foundation's name, originated as a freestyle over a Kendrick Lamar beat. Menn later recorded the vocals over an original production, and now uses it as his mission statement against the growing influence of heroin in his Fairview Heights, Illinois, community. The video is crispy and moving; check out the cameo from St. Louis' very own Chicago hip-hop transplant Icy Mike as the heroin addict.
T-Dubb-O "Out the Way"
This video serves as a healthy reminder of the wild and rambunctious energy provided by T-Dubb-O and his Mobstar mixtape series. You just don't hear this type of lyrical creativity coming from the average St. Louis street rapper. The video is simplistic, but it sets the tone for the bars he's throwing straight at your head. If you like quotables and jaw-dropping punchlines that will cause you hit the rewind button, then this is for you.
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